I love candles! After a busy day, lighting a scented candle or two is a great way to relax. BUT I was recently reading about paraffin wax candles (this is the majority of candles you see for sale) and some of the not so great side effects. Apparently the smoke they give off and the impurities they contain can all be quite detrimental to your health. And of course they use paraffin, which comes from fossil fuels, so Mother Nature’s not too happy about them either!
I had been wanting to make my own candles for ages, so after reading that article I thought it was a great time to experiment with soy wax as an alternative to paraffin wax in candles.
It was surprisingly easy, and went quite well! Below you’ll find the full method I used, with instructions and photos of the products I used.
- Eco Soy wax (1kg should be enough to get started)
- Cooking thermometer (pictured later)
- Heat proof glass jars / containers
- Wicks for soy candles
- Candle fragrance / oils (optional)
I got everything on eBay, and recycled old votives and jam jars for containers, but you could raid the local charity shops for interesting glassware (just check it can withstand a bit of heat!)
- old pan or a double boiler set up (see method below)
- kitchen scales
I did my candles in two batches, making lots of notes about the weight of wax used, volume of fragrance, etc. and tried to come up with some tips that might make the process more efficient.
Firstly, weigh out the amount of soy wax flakes that you think you’ll need. I found that 200g of wax flakes gave about 250ml of wax to pour. If you’re not sure how much wax your candle container will hold, you could just fill it with water and measure how much water you get in there.
melting the wax
I used a homemade double-boiler set up as I didn’t have an old pan to use. I floated a glass jar in a pan of hot water. Be careful not to burn yourself… I ended up using a tupperware lid to rest the jar on and it was too heavy to float. You could do something similar with a plastic bowl floating in the water.
Add the flakes to your jar or bowl, and they will start to melt fairly quickly. Keep a good eye on your thermometer as you don’t want to overheat the wax. I heated to about 60ºC (149ºF) then turned off the heat. The wax will be completely melted by this point. You want to let it cool to about 45º before adding the fragrance.
In the meantime…
sticking your wick (ooh)
While the wax is cooling, this is a good time to attach your wicks to the containers. Some people use glue for this, but I thought I’d take a chance using melted wax, and it worked perfectly. Just dip the metal end of your wick into the melted soy wax and then pop it on the bottom of your container. It will solidify pretty quickly and then the wick is fixed in place. Repeat for all the containers, and keep them centred with clothes pegs.
fragrance – adding the scents
For the first batch I used:
- Sandalwood – 40 drops
- Amber – 20 drops
- Arabian Musk – 30 drops
Add the fragrance slowly, and keep stirring continuously. There are so many options out there for fragrances, so just experiment with scents you think you’ll like.
pouring the wax
Once the soy wax has cooled to 40ºC (104ºF) you can start pouring your wax. Keep the clothes pegs on the wicks to keep them centred as you pour the wax.
TIP: don’t pour the wax into cold containers… I did this on my first batch, and basically it makes the wax cool too quickly, so you get a frosting look where the wax pulls away from the glass container as it dries. It’s not pretty to look at. I experimented with heating the containers slightly before pouring. Just put the containers in hot water for a few minutes to bring them up in temperature. I did this on the 2nd batch and the candles came out much nicer.
Once the candles are poured, leave them to dry for 48 hours before burning. You want them to dry at a warm room temperature – nowhere too cold or you will get the unattractive “frosting” look inside the glass containers.
trimming the wicks
I noticed with my soy candles that the wicks don’t burn up like with paraffin wax candles, so you’ll want to trim them back before each use.
- wax – £7.99 for 1.5kg
- containers – FREE 🙂
- wicks – 10p each
- fragrances – £5.97 for 4 bottles.
- thermometer – £2.99
I used about 375g of wax, 1 bottle of fragrance, and 3 wicks:
GRAND TOTAL = £3.80 to make 2 decent sized scented soy candles (plus a tealight)*
*I didn’t include the price of the thermometer as it was a one time purchase.
I can hardly believe the price of some designer candles these days – and I can’t believe how cheap all the materials were to make my own.
Apart from saving you money, making your own soy candles lets you personalise your own scents, eliminates the health worries of paraffin wax, and is actually kinda fun too! It was far less messy than I expected, and because the wax melts at such a low temperature, it’s fairly safe to do.
I’m going to experiment with different fragrances to see what combinations I can come up with. Maybe I’ll have a signature “Duncan blend”, haha. If you fancy trying it yourself let me know in the comments how you get on. If you come up with any tips of your own, please share those as well, I’d love to hear what people come up with.
A final question… what’s everyone’s favourite fragrances for scented candles?